Witness Accounts, ‘Blood Evidence' Examined in Woman's Death in Santee Home

The woman was found unconscious by her roommate Tuesday night, suffering from trauma to her body

A home in Santee turned into a large crime scene overnight after a woman was found dead in mysterious homicide case that left her family devastated.

"My sister did not deserve to die like this," the victim's brother, Steven Chavez, told NBC 7.

"I never thought we would ever have to deal with something so tragic," added the woman's sister, Priscilla Chavez. "I pray that whatever was done in the dark, will come to light."

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO), said the woman's roommate came home to their residence in 8800 block of Mission Greens Road, near Mission Gorge, Tuesday at around 10:40 p.m. to find the woman unconscious on the floor, critically injured.

He immediately called 911. SDSO deputies were dispatched to the scene and when they arrived, the woman was confirmed dead.

The woman has not yet been formally identified by officials but her siblings told NBC 7 the victim is 34-year-old Leticia Arroyo, known to loved ones as "Lety."

The victim's sister described Arroyo as a beloved daughter and aunt who made everyone laugh and had an infectious smile.

"She was a beautiful person," said Priscilla, adding that Arroyo was an alumna of Mount Miguel High School, where she excelled as a softball player.

Steven told NBC 7 the pain his family feels from losing Arroyo so suddenly is the worst pain anyone could endure.

"The person who did this, will pay for it," added Steven. "We want closure for our family."

"We want peace, we want closure, we want justice," said Priscilla.

SDSO Lt. Kenneth Nelson said homicide detectives have taken over the investigation. By 6:30 a.m., deputies had cordoned the area and obtained a warrant to search the back of the home. Nelson said detectives would remain at the scene for many hours Wednesday combing through the property for evidence and keeping the scene secure to preserve any clues.

Officials could be seen swabbing the door of the home and collecting items. Another crime scene team collected evidence from a car parked nearby.

Nelson said the scene spans a large area because detectives want to make sure they don't miss any key evidence.

"In a homicide [investigation], we have one chance to get it right," Nelson told reporters at an 11:15 a.m. briefing.

He said "blood evidence" was found in the street near the woman's home, although detectives have not yet determined if the blood belongs to the victim or to the suspect or suspects.

Nelson said detectives are also trying to figure out where the actual attack took place -- whether it was on the street or inside the home.

The lieutenant said no arrests have been made and detectives are actively pursuing a number of leads.

Nelson couldn't confirm the nature of the woman's injuries and said the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office will conduct an autopsy Thursday morning to determine the cause and manner of her death. At that time, the ME is also expected to formally identify the victim.

Nelson said detectives have interviewed many residents and witnesses who reported seeing people leaving the area at the time of the crime. He said those witness statements are still being vetted.

At this point, detectives have not yet determined a motive for the killing.

Nelson said the woman's roommate is a witness at this point, not a suspect in the homicide investigation. He said the roommate is traumatized.

Neighbors told deputies they heard some noises coming from the home at around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

One neighbor, who did not want to be identified, told NBC 7 he was outside smoking a cigarette at around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday when he heard a loud bang that sounded like a firecracker. The witness said he then saw a man leaving from the home where the woman was found dead.

Meanwhile, the woman's family waited outside the home all morning, hugging one another. They were visibly shaken; many sobbed while they waited for answers. Nelson said a crisis team was en route to help the family.

The family told NBC 7 Arroyo lived with two people: the roommate who found her body and a woman with whom she had a romantic relationship.

Neighbor Deanne Medina, like many other residents, told NBC 7 she was shocked by the case.

"I'm really surprised to see something like this happen. A lot of times, if we have a sick neighbor, we'll go and check on them, just to see how they're doing. So I'm really surprised by this and saddened by this," said Medina.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on this case can reach out to the SDSO’s Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321 or (858) 565-5200, or San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Arroyo's family with funeral costs. You can donate to the fund here.

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